Is it wrong to refer to someone as “pastor”?

My post Leading or Lording has attracted quite a lot of comment. The most prolific commenter has been a certain A. Amos Love, who I know nothing else about except that he links to a website called God’s Words of Comfort and Healing (this is not an endorsement). Indeed I infer from the idiosyncratic writing style that this Amos is the author of the articles on the site as well as of the comments.

In his often long comments Amos takes a strong position that there should be no leaders in the church, for example:

If Jesus told His disciples
not to be called master/leader
and someone calls them self a leader
or thinks they are a leader;

are they a disciple of Christ?

Titles become idols and
pastors become masters.

I don’t accept Amos’ complete rejection of the fivefold ministry of Ephesians 4:11. But I do accept a need to look carefully at how these five ministries, or at least some of them, have becomes offices and positions of honour in the church, and whether this is biblical.

I wasn’t sure how to answer Amos on some of his points. I am not entirely opposed to his position, but I feel that he is unnecessarily negative about many humble pastors and others who serve the church faithfully without thought for their own positions and titles. So I thought what Amos writes would make a good discussion starter for a wider audience. So here, with Amos’ permission, is one of his lengthy comments in full, slightly reformatted. This is a response to my question which he quotes at the beginning. How would any of you my readers respond to this?


“But is it wrong to refer to someone e.g. as “pastor” if he or she is truly gifted by God for that ministry?”

The fast answer now is; Yes, it is wrong. Very wrong. If someone wants to call you “pastor” run as fast as you can… They tried making Jesus king, he said no, and he was qualified to be king, Yes? Just because you have gifts and are qualified should you accept the title? Do “Titles become Idols” of the heart? Do “Pastors become Masters/leaders?”  Trust and obey – Not think and decide.

I’ve come to understand the danger to both those who think they are a “shepherd.” And those taught, they are “only” “sheep” and need a human “shepherd” to lead and guide them.

In the Bible, How many people… have the title pastor?
In the Bible, How many people are… referred to as pastor?
In the Bible, How many people are… ordained as a pastor?
In the Bible, How many congregations are… led by a pastor?

Every titled “pastor” I’ve met also had the “title” reverend. Can’t find that one in the KJV either; Can you?

Now the Anglicans really have a slew of titles; Don’t they? Father, priest, pastor, rector, vicar, reverend, most right reverend. Had a friend. Teased him all the time. Who are you today? { ; o ) And he wore a dress and got paid for giving 15 minute sermonetts. Ah! Religion, It’s a beautiful thing…

If no one in the Bible is “called or has the title” “pastor” don’t I help “perpetrate a myth” that is not in the Bible and help “the traditions of men” make the Word of non effect when I call or refer to someone as pastor?

I believe you already know the word “pastor” is Greek for “shepherd.” “Shepherd” was a low place then, but… “Pastor” is now a high place, a title, a profession, a salaried position and accepted by the world system. Where is that in the Bible? Tradition of men? Nullify the Word of God?

Along with the “title pastor” comes, (a few things we didn’t ask for?) power, profit, prestige, prominence, position, recognition, reputation, honor, self importance, self worth, etc. (and leaness to the soul?) Yes, God, gives you what you ask for – and something extra. Hmmm?

Could these be, “those things that are highly esteemed among men
but is an abomination in the sight of God?” Luke 16:15

Could these be, “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, not of the Father, but is of the world?” 1John 2:16

Most, that I’ve met, started out wanting to serve Christ. They didn’t want to steal the glory that belonged only to Jesus. They just didn’t refuse it when the glory came. The tests had begun.

A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet. Pr 29:5

Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. Pr 20:17

Yes, I’ve failed a lot of tests and eaten a lot of gravel myself. Ouch! { : o (….

“The Lord is “my” shepherd.” Psalm 23. I’m happy being a sheep now. And the servants get to see the miracles. John2:9 Ahhh! Peace, Joy, Love!!!

You’ll have to admit there is a tremendous amount of “shepherd” burn out, for him and his family, in the religious system. The shepherd and his family live in this glass bubble and have to watch everything they do. They have to “act” in a way that either pleases the people (fear of man) or keeps the people in line.(Lord it over)

Either way it is different from who they really are. (Hypocrites?) It’s almost impossible to heard a hundred people sheep. They don’t seem to respond like sheep sheep.

Alan Knox – “it is not easy to lead without “lording it over” other people” It’s impoosible. (Just my very humble opinion.) Leaders=Lord it over=always. But, if you see yourself as a servant you let Jesus do His thing, Let Him be Lord.

I’ve had friends of mine who just couldn’t do it anymore. They had to leave for their own well being. An Episcople priest, an Assemblies of God pastor,
a Baptist pastor and evangelists who traveled the country.

Lot’s of ugly stuff going on behind the scenes. You know what I mean. Oh, not on sunday morning of course. That’s the entertainment. The show. Sunday we “act” like we’re really christians. It’s the law. Look over there…Is that Jesus crying over what people are calling, His Church? Is this what he had in mind for His bride to look like? His temple? My,My…

They were in an “office” and “position” that’s not in the scriptures. Pastors in pulpits, preaching, to people in pews. And it better be good…. Every week… My, my… stress, stress… CEO… Councelor… Team captain… Smiley face… etc.,etc…

They had to try and serve three masters. Oy vey! Jesus, the denomination, and the congregation. No wonder there is so much burnout.

Jesus already knows how to shepherd His sheep. He does a much better job then we ever could.

I’m getting long winded and I’m just getting started. Still have to cover the dangers for “the sheep” led by a man. Hmmm? Those who are led by the Spirit? Are they the sons of God?

Well done thou good and faithful; leader? pastor?

Love and peace.

Facebook makes the changes I asked for!

Don’t say that Facebook isn’t receptive to changes requested by its users like myself. Only last month I complained about the privacy issues with taking Facebook quizzes. Now, as the BBC reports, Facebook is going to do almost exactly what was necessary to meet my concerns:

Facebook has said it will make changes that will give users more control over the data they provide to third-party developers of applications, such as games and quizzes.

There are around 950,000 developers in 180 countries who provide applications for the site.

Specifically, the changes will require applications to state which information they wish to access and obtain consent from the user before it is used or shared.

“Application developers have had virtually unrestricted access to Facebook users’ personal information,” said Ms Stoddart.

“The changes Facebook plans to introduce will allow users to control the types of personal information that applications can access.”

Jennifer Stoddart is the Canadian privacy commissioner, who also said:

These changes mean that the privacy of 200 million Facebook users in Canada and around the world will be far better protected.

Another change is that Facebook users will be able to delete their accounts completely, including deleting all personal data, as an alternative to merely deactivating an account, with the data retained to allow easy reactivation.

Now I can’t really claim that Facebook has responded to the concerns in my blog post, although it might have taken them into account as part of its general monitoring of users’ concerns. It seems rather that Facebook was breaking Canadian law and was facing a court challenge from the privacy commissioner. Kevin Sam, himself Canadian, already blogged about this, and I noted it in a comment. Nevertheless I am of course pleased that these changes are about to be made.

Three cheers to Ms Stoddart!

Piper tells orphans to stop whining

John Meunier, in a post Ruthless Calvinist tells orphans to stop whining, paraphrases John Piper’s “response to children who lost their fathers on Sept. 11” as:

Yes, God killed your daddy. And he’s your only ticket out of hell, so you better not get too lippy about it.

Is Meunier being fair to Piper? Read his post and make up your own mind. Don’t miss this comment in which John M adds some nuances to his own position, and links it to the issue of whether Hurricane Katrina was a punishment from God – although surprisingly he doesn’t bring in Piper’s other recent controversial comments about the Minneapolis tornado.

Daughters and sons are a heritage from the LORD

Sons are a heritage from the LORD …
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.

… your sons will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.

Psalm 127:3-5, 128:3-4 (NIV)

I know these psalms well in NIV and have always semi-consciously understood them as meaning that sons are more of a blessing than daughters, at least in the mind of the psalmist. But is this what was intended?

It was no surprise to me that the TNIV translators thought differently:

Children are a heritage from the LORD …
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.

… your children will be like olive shoots
round your table.
4 Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the LORD.

Psalm 127:3-5, 128:3-4 (TNIV)

(By the way, TNIV retains “man” in both these psalms for the explicitly masculine Hebrew word geber, while using “those” for the more ambiguous Hebrew ish in Psalm 1:1, in a formula otherwise identical to the one in 127:5.)

What came as more of a surprise was that the ESV translators have made almost the same translation choices:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord …
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!

… your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.

Psalm 127:3-5, 128:3-4 (ESV)

There is a footnote on “children” in 127:4: “Or sons“. This ESV rendering is even more odd because NRSV, following RSV, has “sons” in 127:3,4, but “children” in 128:3. But perhaps the ESV translators have looked back to KJV:

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD …
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them …

… thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.

Psalm 127:3-5, 128:3-4 (KJV)

Coverdale (1535, as found in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer), ERV (1885) and ASV (1901) all have “children” consistently, although Wycliffe (1380s) has “sones”.

So what is the issue here? In each case (127:3,4, 128:3) the Hebrew is banim. This word is technically the plural of ben “son”. But, as was well known even to the KJV translators (compare their regular rendering “children of Israel” for beney Yisrael) and to Coverdale’s sources (compare Luther’s (1545) rendering “Kinder”), in the plural the word normally has a gender generic meaning, referring to daughters as well as sons. Even the drafters of the infamous Colorado Springs Guidelines accepted this when they wrote:

(However, Hebrew banim often means “children.”)

And it was presumably on this basis that the ESV translators, who followed these guidelines, translated “children” in these psalms.

It seems to me that this is a case of the RSV (1952) and NIV (1978) translators (and, more surprisingly, those of NRSV (1989)) introducing and perpetuating an innovative rendering suggesting extremely damaging teaching, that sons are more of a blessing from God than daughters. This may be what is believed in some countries, e.g. China where, according to a 2004 report, nearly 20% more boys than girls are born because of selective abortion – a statistic which is becoming a threat to that country’s future prosperity. But this preference for sons was never taught in the Bible, at least not in Hebrew, and not in modern English until 1952.

It really is well past time for some of these misleading translations to be retired. There are similar issues with how they use the word “man” – see for example how “man” has been introduced into Romans 4:4,5, 1 Corinthians 3:8,12 etc NIV. RSV is already obsolescent, barely still in print. But this example shows that NRSV, still widely used in “mainline” denominations and in academic circles, now needs revisions. It also demonstrates clearly that it is time for NIV to be retired, and replaced by TNIV.

Tony Blair does God

His press secretary Alastair Campbell said he didn’t do it. His successor Gordon Brown still won’t do it, at least allow people “to ask him about his own faith, … what he prays about or if he prays before making policy decisions”. But former Prime Minister Tony Blair has now at last broken his silence and “done God”. Recently, for the first time in the UK, he spoke out openly about his faith to a meeting at Holy Trinity, Brompton in London, as reported on a blog at The Guardian and linked to by the Church Times blog.

Indeed this is what I wrote over a year ago, quoting Ruth Gledhill:

he’s not afraid to ‘do God’ now.

But up to this point Blair seems to have “done God” in his works, through his Faith Foundation, but not in his words at least here in the UK.

In his talk at HTB Tony Blair defended his policy of not “doing God” while in office:

If people do not understand how your faith works in your life, they think you go off in a corner and pray and get a divine inspiration as to what the minimum wage should be. People start thinking ‘we have got someone crazy running the country’.

But he clearly doesn’t take the position that faith should in general be an unimportant private matter:

The oddest question I have ever got asked is ‘Is your faith important in your life?’ If you have religious faith, in the end, it is the most important thing in your life; it is not an adjunct, it is the core. …

If I was to say what my Christianity has meant to my life, it would be, that it has given my life more purpose. The saddest thing in any person’s life is to wake up without purpose, and the most joyful thing is to wake up with purpose.

Indeed. He also praised evangelical churches which are

energetic and charismatic, where people are going out and telling people what it is about, you can be better people, create a better world, and go out and do God’s work.

In the light of sentiments like these it is not surprising that the evangelical charismatic audience at HTB accepted him very warmly. Certainly they are not among those  religious nutcases who consider Blair the Antichrist or the false prophet of Revelation. And in view of the limited amount of real change in government policies since Gordon Brown took over I was perhaps too quick to blame Blair personally for his government’s failings. But I do find it hard to forgive him for leading us into the Iraq war. Nevertheless I too am beginning to warm to him.

Delivered from Alexander's Sword

I reported nearly two weeks ago on what David Ker has called the Alexander’s Sword method of interpreting the Bible. In the light of this I was interested to read the first part of Ajith Fernando’s guest post at Koinonia.

Fernando, a Bible teacher from Sri Lanka, starts by describing how his students at a particular course were approaching the Bible:

I found that many of my students were latching on to an inspiring thought from the passages we were studying, forgetting the context in which that thought appears and ultimately missing out on the message of the passage. So I had to keep asking them over and over again questions like, “What does the passage really say?” “Why does Paul say that?” …

It sounds like the students were addicted to the Alexander’s Sword method. So it is interesting to see how Fernando responded:

… It was a desperate battle. At one time I was so concerned that I sent SOS text messages to about 20 people asking them to pray that somehow God will break through and help them to learn how to read and study the Bible. I think the basic problem was that they have not really learned to read!

The battle went on for the whole week until I believe God’s Spirit broke through to them. I am confident that those who persevere in using what they learned will develop skills for a lifetime of thrilling study of the Word. By the end of the course many of the students told me that they had never realised that there is so much to get from the Scriptures. …

So, it seems, these students’ eyes were opened to the truth and they were delivered from their addiction by the Holy Spirit through the power of prayer. Perhaps more such prayer ministry is needed for those who persist in misinterpreting the Bible!

Fernando continues with some sensible words to put the Alexander’s Sword approach into its proper context:

Having said this we must agree that there are times when God does grab us with a personal message from a single spot in a larger passage. But that is an exception to the rule. The God who inspired all of Scripture can send us a message through a little portion of the passage if he wants to. But he usually works through the message he wanted the biblical writer to convey. That is the message we must labour to discover.

He concludes this introduction to what looks like being a helpful series on how to do inductive Bible study with these words from A.W. Tozer:

To get to the root I recommend a plain text Bible and diligent application of two knees on the floor.


Leading or Lording

Bill Heroman, in a break from his interesting series on Jesus in Nazareth, has published challenging posts Lording it Over and Leading, not Lording. Bill is responding to a post by Alan Knox, to which he also replies in the comments. Here is a quote from Bill’s former post:

If anyone provides leadership in the body of Christ, they do a great thing, providing a wonderful service for both God and the saints. But if someone leads constantly, or exclusively, or holds permanent veto power over all decisions, then by definition I think we need to realize that such a person IS (de facto) “lording it over” the people of God. It doesn’t matter one bit whether their style is gracious or domineering. If you give all the orders, or permit all the orders, then you have, in practice, assumed the position of an earthly lord.

I have a lot of sympathy with what Bill is saying here. Lord Acton’s dictum (originally addressed to a bishop)

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely

applies in the church just as much as in the political realm, if the Holy Spirit is not allowed to correct the situation. Sadly very many church leaders start out with strong individual ministries led by the Holy Spirit, but as the Spirit’s power fades they start to operate in their own power, which if not controlled quickly corrupts them and their churches.

The problem with Bill’s position is that the New Testament does teach that the church should have elders, pastors, overseers and deacons, without clarifying how these offices relate to one another. Bill’s suggestion that the role of a pastor in Ephesians 4:11 is “an exception for a very young church” is not tenable. He defends this in his second post with

But there is an “until” in Ephesians 4.

Indeed, but that “until” in verse 13 refers to the time when we “attain[] to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ” (TNIV). That is not something I have seen in typical middle-aged churches – it is something we can look forward to only in the kingdom of God. Until then Christians still need to be equipped and the body of Christ still needs to be built up (verse 12), and so the fivefold ministry of verse 11, including apostolic ministry, is still required.

Perhaps a more balanced position is that of Alan Knox:

Don’t misunderstand me, as an elder, it is not easy to lead without “lording it over” other people, but Jesus said, “It shall not be so among you.” So, it does me no good to state that I should NOT have authority over others, then go ahead and exercise authority. I must try to work this into my life.

Yes, the church does need spiritually gifted leaders. Ephesians 4:14 describes the alternative, what is likely to happen to a group of believers where the fivefold ministry is not exercised: they don’t grow out of infancy. Sadly this looks very like many churches today. What the church needs is not an absence of leadership, but leading which is not lording it but follows the proper biblical pattern.

Online Prayer

Ruth Gledhill’s guest blogger Elizabeth Kirkwood has an interesting article on online prayer. It seems that more and more people are turning to this. I’m sure this is not a new phenomenon – indeed my personal prayer letters have been online since 2002. But apparently there are now specialist websites for online prayer:

You log on and submit a prayer in the hope that others will respond by praying on your behalf …

For example:

One Beliefnet user, Scott C, writes on the financial prayer forum: “I have been out of work since December 2008. Please pray that I find a full time job again. Unemployment has been very difficult finianically and has placed a strain on my marriage”.

Another user, Merlock, replies: “May God guide you to find a job, provide for your needs”. …

Worries about the ethics of these sites are further fuelled by the existence of some which charge for intecessionary prayer, offering a ‘call-centre’ style service.

Well, I certainly am worried about any site which might try to make a profit from prayer for others’ misfortune. I would consider that entirely unethical. It might be a different matter if this is a charity only covering expenses. Of course it is very difficult to be sure with US sites, like the one linked to, which are not bound by the strict rules of the British Charity Commission.

But what about the free sites? Are they unethical too? I don’t see them as being entirely wrong. But I do accept the concern that they can trivialise prayer into just petition and intercession, with no place for wonder and praise. So, like Elizabeth, I remain unconvinced.

But what is OK for a specialist site is surely OK for a blog like this one. So:

I am currently looking for a job. Not having one is putting a strain on my finances, especially as I also have a wedding to get ready for. So please, anyone who reads this, pray in the name of Jesus Christ that I can find a good and suitable job, through which I can bring glory to him.


Where am I?


Ruth Gledhill - Articles of faith

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August 16, 2009

Seeking work through online prayer

Lizzie-12 As youth unemployment grows in line with the use of new communications technologies by the young, many of those out of work are not just seeking jobs online, but praying online for help in finding them. Elizabeth Kirkwood, Oxford graduate, who has just completed the journalism course at City University, writes here a guest  blog for Articles of Faith on the growing phenomenon of online prayer.

Elizabeth Kirkwood writes:

‘My experience of on-line prayer goes something like this: I sit in front of my computer, my head in my hands, its late at night, an eerie blue glow is cast from the screen. In the silence I pray for some divine intervention from a greater being. But the greater being in question is otherwise known as Microsoft. I have a deadline and my computer has decided that it’s “no longer responding”. You get the picture.

But there is another type of on-line prayer, one which increasing numbers of people appear to be taking up, in particular looking for support to cope with the pressures of our current economic crisis. According to the assistant editor of, Nicole Symmonds, the site – one of the most popular interfaith websites today – “has seen a huge increase in on-line traffic specifically to the financial prayer circles and forums, an upturn which started during the last quarter of 2008, when people were really beginning to feel the effects of the credit crunch.”

Such sites come in a variety of formats, but most follow the same formula. You log on and submit a prayer in the hope that others will respond by praying on your behalf, otherwise known as intercessionary prayer.

But what does this offer that traditional prayer doesn’t? Nicole Symmonds believes it comes down to a combination of factors, not least the rise and rise of social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, making people feel more comfortable sharing prayers on-line. But it’s also easy and convenient, she suggests, so that people can be transparent about their worries in a way they find hard face to face. “People want to feel like they’re able to bare their souls even to people they don’t know.”

One Beliefnet user, Scott C, writes on the financial prayer forum: “I have been out of work since December 2008. Please pray that I find a full time job again. Unemployment has been very difficult finianically and has placed a strain on my marriage”.

Another user, Merlock, replies: “May God guide you to find a job, provide for your needs”.

Proof texting and communion in one kind: the same kind of error

I just realised an interesting link between proof texting, the theology of which I blogged about yesterday, and the issue I raised in my series two weeks ago about the validity of communion in one kind.

I quoted the following from Frank Viola and George Barna’s chapter on proof texting:

The Protestant scholastics held that not only is the Scripture the Word of God, but every part of it is the Word of God in and of itself—irrespective of context. This set the stage for the idea that if we lift a verse out of the Bible, it is true in its own right and can be used to prove a doctrine or a practice.

That clause “every part of it is the Word of God in and of itself” sounds remarkably like the Roman Catholic doctrine of concomitance, as defined by Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary:

The doctrine that explains why the whole Christ is present under each Eucharistic species. Christ is indivisible, so that his body cannot be separated from his blood, his human soul, his divine nature, and his divine personality. Consequently he is wholly present in the Eucharist.

I discussed this doctrine in a previous post. My point there was that this doctrine is specifically Roman Catholic and so should not be appealed to by Anglicans – although it probably lies behind the Archbishops’ advice of which I was so critical.

My point now is a different one. This Roman Catholic doctrine of concomitance, that the whole of Jesus, the Word of God, is present in each of the communion elements, was apparently developed by the original mediaeval scholastic theologians or “Schoolmen”, of whom the best known is Thomas Aquinas. Their scholastic method and use of Aristotelian logic was taken up by the Protestant scholastics that Viola and Barna refer to – in a footnote they name Francis Turretin and Martin Chemnitz. And these scholastics came to the analogous conclusion that every part of Scripture, even a verse lifted out of context, “is the Word of God in and of itself”.

Where do they find that supported in Scripture? I don’t think they can even find a verse lifted out of context to support it. Rather, it is a result of Aristotelian logic as developed by the various scholastics, going far beyond what God has chosen to reveal in his Word.

God doesn’t want us to find him in and through just a part of Scripture or one half of communion, and to rationalise away our rejection of the other element or of the parts of his Word that we find less palatable. He has provided the whole Bible and ordained both communion elements. We should make proper use of all the gifts that he has given.

Bad boys and big bad bears

In his post Bad Boy Bible Study meets Ship of Fools David Ker challenged me, along with sixteen other bloggers, to outline a sermon on 2 Kings 2:23-24, the story about Elisha and the bears who killed 42 bad boys – although arguably the real bad boy in the story is Elisha:

Here are the rules:

  • You’ve been asked to teach or preach on this passage.
  • What would you say?

Simple, eh?

Well, maybe not so simple. I could decline the tag on the basis that I am not a preacher. But then I am a bit of a frustrated preacher, and so I will accept the challenge. Here is the passage, in TNIV:

From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.

What can I say? I could muse on the significance of 42. The number of life, the universe and everything? But that’s not from the Bible, it’s from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The number of humanity (6) multiplied by the number of perfection (7)? Possibly, and so indicating that the whole of humanity is perfectly cursed by God – no, that must be Alexander’s Sword exegesis. Or perhaps the only significance of 42 is that this was historically the number of boys who were torn in pieces – probably a more accurate translation of the Hebrew than “maul” (compare the same word in 2 Kings 8:12, 15:16 and Hosea 13:8, 16, all translated in TNIV “rip open”, which has perhaps tried to mitigate the violence in 2 Kings 2:24).

But there is one real sermon point I would want to take from this passage. That is about the power of a prophet’s words.

Elisha as a prophet filled with the Holy Spirit had within him the power and authority of God, with which he was able to pronounce a curse on the boys which was not mere words but had immediate effect. Similarly there is authority in our words as Spirit-filled Christians, and by that I mean all true Christians. God has given us the right to ask for anything in Jesus’ name and promised to give it to us (John 14:13-14, 15:7, 16:23, in context). Sometimes he does this even when it is not a good thing, as the Israelites who craved meat found out when they received quail which brought a plague (Numbers 11:4, 31-34). The same is true of Elisha’s curse on the boys: God answered it by sending the bears even though that was not a good thing.

So, as Christians,  we must be careful not to ask for bad things or pray curses on people, but instead we should bless them and ask for what is good.